Gender equality and increasing women’s representation in parliaments is top of the agenda for Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians   

Over 20 Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians from 16 countries have met to discuss the gender priorities for 2017 and beyond at a working group and strategy session held in the United Kingdom. The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) is the network of women Members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s Parliament and Legislatures.

The two-day retreat provided the CWP participants with an opportunity to take stock of gender representation in Commonwealth legislatures and re-commit to energising the CWP to take action to better support women in parliament. As well as looking at formal and informal quota systems, the women Parliamentarians talked through strategies to engage men in the gender agenda. Agreeing on the importance of gender budgeting, leveraging social media as a tool to engage and educate society about the importance of gender equality, and seeking out partnerships to strengthen the work of the network, the two-day retreat offered an opportunity for CWP to focus on its mission and define its ambitions moving forward. The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians will also focus on three gender policy areas: women in leadership; economic empowerment; and violence against women.

The CWP Working Group was led by the newly elected Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP), Hon. Dato’ Noraini Ahmad MP (Malaysia) who has pledged to renew the effort to increase women’s political participation across the Commonwealth during her three year term. Hon. Dato’ Noraini Ahmad MP said: “I am determined that my tenure should be marked by promoting an active, dynamic and vibrant network of Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) that better assists us to meet our aspirations to increase the number of women Parliamentarians; supports us in championing issues that are important to women; and reinforces the important Commonwealth values, including gender equality, that we hold dear. As a result of the CWP Working Group and the valuable contributions from Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians from across our regions, we can now identify our future aspirations, goals and priorities for a responsive, supportive and impactful CWP during my term as Chairperson.”

The CWP Working Group included participants from all nine regions of the CPA: Africa Region (South Africa and Mauritius); Asia Region (Sri Lanka and Pakistan); Australia Region (Tasmania and New South Wales); British Islands and Mediterranean Region (Wales and Scotland); Caribbean, Atlantic and Americas Region (Montserrat and Guyana); Canada Region (Saskatchewan and Canada Federal); India Region (Lok Sabha); Pacific Region (New Zealand and Samoa); South-East Asia Region (Malaysia).

The CWP Working Group also heard from a number of leading experts in the field of gender equality including: Hon. Lechesa Tsenilo MP, Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of South Africa and male champion of gender equality; Hon. Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, Chair of the Women in Parliament Global Forum Executive Board and former Member of Parliament in Iceland; Ms Begoña Lasagabaster, Chief of Leadership and Governance at UN Women and former MP from Spain; Ms Amelia Kinahoi Siamomua, Head of the Gender Section, Commonwealth Secretariat; and Dr David Donat-Cattin, Secretary-General of Parliamentarians for Global Action.

The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) network provides a means of building the capacity of women elected to parliament to be more effective in their roles; improving the awareness and ability of all Parliamentarians, male and female, and encouraging them to include a gender perspective in all aspects of their role - legislation, oversight and representation and helping parliaments to become gender-sensitive institutions.

The CWP Working Group was held from Friday 24 February to Monday 27 February 2017 at Wilton Park, West Sussex, United Kingdom.

Follow #CWPworkshop2017 on Twitter @CPA_Secretariat for images and news from the workshop.

For images from the CWP Working Group please click here.


Published on Tuesday 28th February 2017.


Notes to Editors

The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) was founded in 1989 to increase the number of female elected representatives in Parliaments and legislatures across the Commonwealth and to ensure that women’s issues are brought to the fore in parliamentary debate and legislation.

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), now in its 105th year with HM The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth as its Patron, exists to develop, promote and support Parliamentarians and their staff to identify benchmarks of good governance and to implement the enduring values of the Commonwealth. The CPA is an international community of over 180 Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures working together to deepen the Commonwealth’s commitment to the highest standards of democratic governance. Parliaments, their Members and officials learn from each other through CPA activities: Annual Commonwealth Parliamentary Conferences, Regional Conferences and other symposiums; Interparliamentary visits; Parliamentary Seminars and Workshops; Publications including The Parliamentarian, the Journal of Commonwealth Parliaments; and the Parliamentary Information and Reference Centre. 

For further information about the CPA, please contact:

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
CPA Secretariat, Westminster House,
Suite 700, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA,
United Kingdom
T: 44-20-7799-1460
F: 44-20-7222-6073
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